“Riga 2014 takes this seriously.”
How do people actually feel about Riga 2014? What do people think about Riga’s environment and their public transport conditions? How do people consider their development and security level in their city? And how do people feel about their culture? These are all really interesting and relevant questions for the European Capital of Culture Riga 2014.
The artists Moritz Behrens and Nina Valkanova are here in Riga for the Staro Riga 2014 light festival presenting their project Smart Citizen Sentiment Dashboard, short SCSD. Both artists are really passionate about getting to know the city and it’s internal themes. The SCSD is an interactive visualization installation giving Riga residents an opportunity to express their views on the topics of environment, public transport, development, security and culture. These topics were requested by Riga 2014 because they are relevant to the city and current issues relating to life of the capital. One can express his individual feelings on these suggested themes by swiping his e-talonu, Riga’s ubiquitous transport card, over a happy or sad smiley. Everybody rapidly understands how the project works and right after that they get really passionate about it.
Riga’s citizens are satisfied
So far Nina and Moritz are really contented with the project because it appears to them as if every citizen takes that project seriously. “This has not been the case in every other city we have shown the piece in”, Moritz clarifies.“ We want to show the social and civic potential of a digitally mediated city rather then quantitative results”, Nina says. Both artists want to create a stage for encounter in the public space as well as giving people the possibility to interpret and discuss the topics on different modalities. After two days the installation has a positive outcome and Riga’s citizen seem to be all right with their environment, their culture and their cities development. They enjoy hosting the European Capital of Culture 2014. On the other hand there have been different opinions on the topic of transport and security. However this seems to be a challenge that is quite common in other cities as well and possibly caused by those many events that are going on during the ECoC Riga 2014.
Riga is simply positive
It appears quite common for Riga’s citizens to go for the happy smiley because the sentiments are generally positive. To Nina the whole European Capital of Culture seems to be a huge success. That is why she considers Riga’s inhabitants to be generally positive. On the other hand she also thinks about the conversations she had with the locals. “Everyone simply seems to be proud and honoured to host the European Capital of Culture. Maybe that could be the reason for that attitude.” In Moritz opinion Riga 2014 “really brings citizens and visitors together and creates a new cultural identity”. Furthermore he appreciates the ECoC itself and sees it as a chance of bringing together the European Union. Riga 2014 has managed to move Riga more towards the centre of Europe.
By Tobias Grimm Connecting Cities